“The next stop is…” – new Accessible Information Regulations effective from October 2024

I wrote a brief piece last year about new laws that the Department for Transport were planning to introduce which would require all buses to provide audio and visual route, destination and next stop announcements.

The Public Service Vehicles Accessible Information Regulations will come into force fully by 2031 and will make bus services more accessible to people with disabilities and improve the journey for everyone.

During the phased implementation, passengers will be able to expect clear audio and visual announcements alerting them to next stops, diversions and the final destination.

Around 16 million people in the United Kingdom (UK) are disabled. Typically, they rely on using local bus and coach services to complete their journeys more than those who are not disabled. The provision of the audible and visible route and upcoming stop information, known here as ‘accessible information’ can help many of them to use local services with greater confidence.

Accessible information has been available onboard some bus and coach services for the past 2 decades, yet over half of the vehicles used on local services across Great Britain remain unequipped to provide it.

Following the introduction of the Public Service Vehicles (Accessible Information ) Regulations 2023 (the Accessible Information Regulations), between 2024 and 2026 it will become mandatory for the majority of local bus and coach services to incorporate accessible information provision, improving the journey experience for all passengers, including passengers who are disabled. In particular, the Regulations are intended to result in:

  • all passengers have access to high-quality and accurate on-board information whenever they travel onboard local bus and coach services
  • the breaking down of access barriers
  • improvements to the journey experience for all passengers

The Regulations are being phased in from 2023 to 2031 and apply to local journeys in England, Scotland and Wales. They do not apply to closed-door school services or vehicles designed to carry fewer than 17 people.

Summary for passengers

Information must be made available directly to passengers in audio and visual form and not through a phone or mobile device.

It must include:

  • the route of the vehicle and direction of travel
  • stopping places on the route
  • diversion alerts
  • whether the vehicle is being used on a hail and ride route
  • a notification that the vehicle has reached its final destination.

Audio and visual information must be consistent.


Announcements must be audible to passengers in any seat or wheelchair space on the bus, and to a hearing-impaired person using a hearing aid when sitting in a priority seat or wheelchair space.

They must be given at every stop as soon as the doors open and give passengers plenty of time to prepare to disembark.

Diversions should be announced at the approach to the last scheduled stop, or as soon as the diversion is clear and there should be an alert tone ahead of diversions and final stop announcements.

Adaptive volume control is not currently mandatory but operators are required to measure the ambient noise of each vehicle and ensure announcements are at least 3 decibels louder.


Visual information should be clearly seen by at least 51% of passengers on each deck and to anyone in a
priority seat or wheelchair space. It is accepted that standing passengers may obscure the view.

All visual information should be clear with characters at least 22mm high and no words in capital letters only.

Summary for bus operators

These regulations took effect on 1 October 2023 but the date in which they apply will depend on when the operator’s vehicles were first used on local services.

A vehicle is considered ‘first used’ on a local service when it first met the conditions in Section 2 of the Transport Act 1985, regardless of the jurisdiction within which it was operated.

Newer vehicles

Vehicles first used on or after 1 October 2019 must comply with the Regulations from 1 October 2024 onwards.

2010s vehicles

Vehicles first used between 1 October 2014 and 30 September 2019 must comply with the Regulations from 1 October 2025 onwards.

Older vehicles

Vehicles first used between 1 January 1973 and 30 September 2014 must comply with these Regulations from 1 October 2026 onwards.

Partially compliant

Vehicles that have a partially compliant status must comply with these Regulations from 1 October 2031 onwards. See the partially compliant section for more information.

Current state of play

Since October 2015, all vehicles purchased by National Express Bus (NX Bus) have been Platinum spec, so were delivered and into service with the required equipment already installed.

Platinum bus on the 5 (Birmingham to Solihull) displaying and announcing next stops

These vehicles have only been programmed with audio/visual announcements for the Platinum routes they were originally intended for use on, so with them increasingly now being used on other routes, audio announcements will now have to be recorded for all routes.

Their only vehicles that will be expected to comply with these new regulations from October 2024 will be the electric and hydrogen buses.

At present, boxes are ticked for route and destination, as well as stopping points, as of yet there are no diversions being announced. It will be interesting to see how this ends up being implemented.

While there are a large number of new buses due for delivery and into service this year, there will still be a large number of vehicles that don’t have equipment installed and so will need to be retro-fitted in order to become compliant from October 2026.

Most other operators buses here in the West Midlands do not have any such equipment installed already, not that I am aware of anyway, if anyone knows otherwise please do let me know in the comments below!

I can imagine it will be quite costly to buy the announcement system equipment and have it installed, and I’m pretty sure it would be quite time-consuming as well! The government did previously announce a £4.65m fund to help support smaller bus operators, but I’m not quite sure how far this is going to stretch!

Is two years going to be enough time to upgrade all these older buses? Or will smaller operators be ‘nudged’ towards investing in brand-new vehicles instead, which would have the equipment already installed from the factory?

From an ordinary passenger perspective, do you find these onboard announcements useful, and would you welcome more buses having them?

Let me know your thoughts and opinions by commenting below!


About WMBU

Stu is the founder of this West Midlands Bus Users website.
He is not a bus enthusiast, but as a regular passenger takes an interest in public transport related matters, having relied on buses to get around for over twenty-five years now.

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